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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2133

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(3.16) —I do not wish to prolong this debate because the Senate will in the remaining weeks of sitting have an opportunity to debate the substantive legislation which the Government will bring in to implement its mini-Budget decisions. But I comment on the fact that the Minister responsible for these matters in this chamber, the Minister for Education (Senator Ryan), came in to Question Time with a prepared statement, which has now been tabled, which included a reference to Senator Macklin and which referred to his comments as being in many respects grossly inaccurate and misleading. Senator Ryan would not be the first Minister to come into this place with a prepared statement to give somebody a good telling off, but the answer she gave in Question Time following this brief was a significant attack on Senator Macklin. It is, I think, a matter of regret that, when Senator Macklin moved to take note of the answer after Question Time, Senator Ryan left the chamber. I express on behalf of the Opposition, the view that if Ministers are prepared-

Senator Lewis —To dish out these serves.

Senator CHANEY —If Ministers are prepared to dish out these serves, as Senator Lewis said, and if they come in to Question Time with prepared statements, they ought at least stick around to face the music and hear what will be said. I regard Senator Ryan as having been thoroughly discourteous. It is the second time in the recent sittings that she has refused to face a debate on a matter for which she is responsible. She is failing to do her job. Quite frankly, if she is not prepared to face up to it she should not be taking the money. I do not think the veterans of Australia, the people she represents or anyone else will be impressed by her performance. I record on behalf of the Opposition our real regret that the Minister is not prepared to face up to criticism, respond to it and do the job that any Minister of the Crown should be prepared to do.